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Your rights in the event of an accident

After an accident, the question arises as to who is liable for the event and which insurance will cover the costs. This involves not only material damage or hospital costs, but also coverage for loss of income and compensation for pain and suffering. The distinction between accident and illness is a particular challenge. It can be worthwhile to consult a lawyer, especially after an accident - the lawyer's fees are often insured and do not have to be paid by the insured person.

02.05.2024 Manuel Bader

In the event of a car accident with injuries, the liability insurance of the person who caused the accident usually pays out. Personal injury claims can quickly result in high amounts of damage - for example, if someone is unable to work for a long time or even becomes disabled. If, for example, a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a car, the owner of the car and their motor vehicle liability insurance are liable. In the event of a collision between two motor vehicles driven by their owners, liability is generally apportioned according to fault.

Who pays in the event of an accident at work?

Employees are compulsorily insured against accidents at work. If they work at least 8 hours a week, non-occupational accidents and accidents during leisure time are also insured. Employers must report the accident to the relevant insurer.

What ist the amount of damges to be claimed after an accident?

In Switzerland, financial loss is defined as the difference in assets before and after a liability event. Or to put it simply: the loss is what is missing in your financials. This includes items such as loss of earnings, household damage, pension damage, treatment costs and legal fees. The amount of compensation depends on many individual factors and is different in each case.

How much is compensation for pain and suffering?

In the event of the death of a person or bodily injury, the judge may, taking into account the particular circumstances, award the injured person or the relatives of the person killed an appropriate sum of money as satisfaction (Art. 47 CO). Examples:

  • Serious bodily injury with permanent disability and lifelong need for care (OGer ZH of 6 March 2012 SB110602): Fr. 200'000.-
  • Paraplegia: Fr. 120'000.- - 150'000.-
  • Nose fracture: Fr. 2'000.-
  • Injury to the lips caused by a blow: Fr. 800.-
  • Brawl, punches, kick between the legs and dog bite to the buttocks: Fr. 400
  • Fist punch to the back with thoracic contusion: Fr. 0.-

Lawyer and accident - who pays for the lawyer?

If a third party is liable for the accident, the lawyer's fees can be claimed as part of the damages and may be paid by the liability insurance. You should also check whether you have legal expenses insurance to cover the lawyer's fees.

Accident or illness?

Depending on whether an accident or illness has occurred, the accident insurance or health insurance will cover the costs.  By legal definition, an accident is a sudden, unintentional damaging effect of an unusual external factor on the human body that results in impairment of physical, mental or psychological health or death. If one of these aspects is missing, the event is categorised as an illness rather than an accident.

If a case is covered by accident insurance, it pays the accident-related costs directly. In the event of incapacity for work, daily allowances are paid out and, in the event of disability, a pension and integrity compensation (compensation for pain and suffering). With health insurance, on the other hand, the injured person usually has to pre-finance the costs. The deductible and excess result in additional costs for the person affected.


  • Accident: stumbling, cuts, tick bite
  • Illness: lumbago, tooth damage due to grains in a five-grain bread

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